Having it All: Two Men and Adrenaline

"Notorious Nineteen" by Janet Evanovich
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Some day, somewhere, someone will construct a Ph.D. dissertation on the topic, "Stephanie Plum as Postmodern Woman."

It's amazing how many readers criticize this entertaining series on the basis that "Jersey Girl" (and divorcee, lest we forget) Plum should settle on one of her two paramours, either Trenton, New Jersey, detective Joseph Morelli, or Trenton security specialist Ranger, aka Carlos Mancuso.

Which begs the question, why? Why, if she can have some of both? Like cake and pie? With ice cream, at that.

Besides, Ranger doesn't wish to wed.

And, Morelli wants Stephanie to give up her job as a bond-enforcement agent for her cousin Vinnie Plum.

Why should she? She enjoys the adrenaline rush. It's part of who she is, and why both men are attracted to her. If Morelli merely wanted a pot-roasting, apron-wearing beer fetcher, he could have settled on one years ago.

But, he (and Ranger) both realize that all the thrillls aren't in the bedroom.

All theses aside, huzzahs to Janet Evanovich for another exciting and truly funny outing with many of her regular cast of characters. All writers who attempt humorous mystery/thrillers with a female protagonist are inevitably compared to Evanovich.

Nevertheless, she outpaces them all. Who knows how she stumbled upon her magic formula-- a savvy combo of characters, setting, tone, and situations?

Maybe talent, maybe luck. Maybe a potion-like concoction of salt, grease, and sugar.

Or, as several characters herein fixate on, maybe a three-foot-tall, Hawaiian Tiki figure.

Stephanie's beleaguered, pot-roasting Mother doesn't drink because of her daughter or her own mother, "Grandma Mazur." She drinks because her life is dull, and she sees all the adrenaline rushes they're experiencing.

If she had a Morelli and/or a Ranger, she wouldn't need Jim Beam. If she could wield a taser as well as she does a spatula, if she were more into cuffs of iron than ironing cuffs, then she could be as postmodern as her daughter.

Really, you've read these books. Would you want to be married to Stephanie's Father?

Or, would you rather unsettle-down with Morelli and/or Ranger?